Hundreds of Syrian refugees riot in Jordanian camp

AMMAN/GENEVA Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:01pm EDT

AMMAN/GENEVA (Reuters) - Hundreds of Syrian refugees demanding help to return home from a camp in northern Jordan rioted and clashed with security forces on Monday night, Jordanian and United Nations officials said.

Six members of the security forces were wounded by stones thrown by protesters, a spokesman for the Jordanian forces said on Tuesday, while Syrian activists at the Zaatari camp said that several refugees were injured.

Zaatari contains about 30,000 refugees and has been the scene of frequent protests about conditions at the camp.

"There was a demonstration that got out of hand," Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, said in Geneva.

Wilkes said that 300 refugees were believed to have been involved in the protest and that they wanted to return to Syria to help their families, despite worsening violence in the country.

"Jordanian authorities said they were very reluctant to take people to the border, where they have seen a lot of insecurity. They didn't want to take people into harm's way," Wilkes added.

One refugee at the camp, speaking on Skype, said that the violence broke out after security forces detained four people. Camp residents gathered and started hurling stones at the security forces, who responded by throwing stones back at them and firing tear gas, the refugee said.

The spokesman for the security forces said that seven people were arrested for inciting violence but did not comment on how the riot was handled.

(Reporting by Hiba Issawi in Amman, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Mariam Karouny in Beirut; Writing by Dominic Evans, editing by David Goodman)

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